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SALT LAKE CITY — A day after signing seven new athletes to the 2019 recruiting class, the University of Utah football program got the news of two more recruits Thursday.
Local products Simote Pepa, a three-star defensive tackle, and Junior Tafuna, a three-star linebacker, from Bingham High, signed their letters of intent at a school ceremony a day later than expected after a massive snowstorm closed schools in the Salt Lake Valley on the first day of the NCAA’s national signing period.
Although the two signed together Thursday for the 2019 recruiting class, both defensive athletes are expected to join the program in two years after serving church missions.
Pepa enters the program as the only defensive tackle signed during the 2019 signing period for Utah and will add to an always loaded defensive front unit. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound tackle turned down offers from Tennessee, Oregon, Wisconsin and Washington to sign with the Utes.
As a junior in high school, Pepa was named the Deseret News 6A MVP and was named first-team all-state in 2017 and 2018 on an always stout Bingham program. Pepa entered the 2019 recruiting class as the third-best athlete from the state of Utah, according to 247sports.com.
Tafuna comes to the program in a position of need for Utah — a depleted linebacker group that lost Chase Hansen and Cody Barton to graduation after the 2018 season. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker turned down offers from programs like Nebraska and Oregon to commit early to the Utes.
Tafuna is ranked seventh in the state and finished his senior season with 64 tackles, one sack and an interception.
With the signing of the two Bingham High recruits, Utah moves up to No. 45 in the national rankings and ninth in the Pac-12, according to 247sports.com. Utah’s overall average, though, improved to 86.18, up from last year’s average of 85.69. With its average, Utah ranks No. 6 in the Pac-12.
Utah is still waiting to see if they can land four-star receiver Puka Nacua out of Orem High. Nacua, the younger brother to Utah receiver Samson Nacua, delayed his decision Wednesday and is expected to choose a school in the coming days, though no timetable has been given.
Although a longshot for the Utes, Nacua is considering Utah, Oregon and Washington after likely decommitting from USC, though the Trojans could still be an option.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told the Pac-12 Network on Wednesday that his program will still be looking to add more athletes in the coming days.
To view a full list of the athletes signed to Utah’s 2019 recruiting class, visit the Utah recruiting page.